Sadly, on Sunday, I took a call from my oldest child’s teacher. She noted that my daughter insisted we did not have any Thanksgiving Day traditions. This didn’t surprise me as the original tradition we had ended with the passing of the matriarch and patriarch of the family. I realize that like many, our Thanksgiving Day traditions ended and those special moments my oldest child counted on and remembered were no longer present and in her heart there was a sadness that I didn’t recreate a new tradition.
Last year, I was so overwhelmed with just having had my fifth child, a rough delivery and a terrible recovery I was happy to just have the children in my family in my home. It seemed good enough to me.
I baked a giant loaf of bread and bought a pound of turkey. I carefully crafted it into a hoagie with baby field greens and bacon the size of Texas and served it with some not so traditional sides as Thanksgiving dinner. The kids tried purple potatoes, crisp green beans, lentil soup and onion and leek brussel sprouts, okay so some were traditional. It was obvious after the conversation with the teacher that this did not pass muster, at least in my children’s eyes.
After that call, we were driving as a family and I began to feel that mommy guilt that my children felt they didn’t have any Thanksgiving Day traditions. They wanted so much to feel like they were a part of a memory and yet, living so far from family I couldn’t get anyone to join us last year and we were alone. I challenged my children to begin thinking of new traditions that they could call their own. Leave it to three year olds to ask to eat McDonald’s. As we drove, I posted on Facebook asking for traditions from other families so that I could get some good ideas to share with the peanut gallery in the back seat. Some people had elaborate celebrations with ornament decorating, large meals and family gatherings. Other families were happy to just have a dinner together and share moments of thanks with football, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and time to relax. As I read each comment, I wondered what we could or should do to make our own traditions beginning this year. I have been thinking about the ways my friends’ families celebrated and ways that all families new or old can create traditions in their own homes when perhaps the traditions you once looked forward to were no longer in your life.
5 New Thanksgiving Day Traditions for Your Family
- Invite Someone: It was apparent that my children really wanted more than just our little family to share the holiday with. So this year we begged my parents to join us. Parents aren’t always available, especially if you live far from family. If this is the case, invite neighbors who are wearing the same shoes. Company seems to be uplifting and in having company you begin to learn what they have done with their family and can grow new traditions together.
- Share in the Meal Planning: This year, I asked the kids what they wanted for their Thanksgiving meal. For us we have five children. The youngest obviously doesn’t have too much to say but I am excited about allowing the older four to go through recipes with me and create our menu.
- Set the Table: It doesn’t have to be fancy but if you have little ones at home, allow them to get involved. You can choose to write menus, create place cards, perhaps create our own centerpiece that can be added to each year. One idea a friend had was a white table cloth with fabric markers. Each person wrote what they were thankful for and the year. I loved this idea and plan to incorporate it into my own home this year.
- Get Outside: Even if its cold, getting outside brings on a feeling of joy. Take a walk, a nature hike, perhaps even collect things for that centerpiece you plan to create with your family for your dinner table.
- Start the Holiday Season: This is the perfect time to start the holiday season. You can decorate your tree while waiting for the turkey to cook. You can also plan to do something that evening to begin the holiday season. As a family perhaps you want to drive through the light shows near your home. You can also give out small gifts like Advent calendars or even a family board game that everyone will play together after dinner.
This year, our Thanksgiving Day traditions certainly won’t contain a hoagie the size of Texas. It will include more family. I will also have opportunities for the children to share their thanks for what we have in life. I can’t wait to begin our own tradition so that my children are not feeling that we don’t have tradition when asked to write about it. I hope that you too continue your family Thanksgiving Day traditions or begin new traditions if it is time.
Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!
This blog post was written by Ellie while she was a blogger for Jersey Family Fun.